UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

Patrick McCaw (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Associated Press

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: No. 15 Oregon, UNLV take center stage

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 15 Oregon vs. UNLV, 11:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

For the second straight day the college basketball schedule is relatively light, and there’s no denying that the matchup between the Ducks and Runnin’ Rebels is the most intriguing contest. While the game will be played in Las Vegas it will be played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as opposed to the Thomas & Mack Center, which is being used for the National Finals Rodeo.

The Ducks, despite not having Jordan Bell or Dylan Ennis, have played well and have the look of a Pac-12 contender thanks to players such as Dylan Brooks, Elgin Cook, Chris Boucher and Tyler Dorsey. On the other side UNLV has just one loss, and with a Mountain West POY candidate in sophomore guard Patrick McCaw leading the way this group has the the depth and talent needed to get back to the NCAA tournament. This game will provide a nice résumé boost for the winner.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Pittsburgh vs. Duquesne, 7:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

The Panthers will look to rebound from their loss to No. 11 Purdue with a win against the 6-1 Dukes, who are off to their best start since the 2007-08 season. Guards Derrick Colter and Micah Mason are combining to average nearly 37 points per game to lead the way for Jim Ferry’s team, which will need strong efforts on the glass from L.G. Gill and Darius Lewis if the Dukes are to beat Pitt. Pitt has won all five games in the series that have been played at the CONSOL Energy Center, and their rotation led by forwards Michael Young and Jamel Artis and point guard James Robinson will be a test. Look for this edition of the “City Game” to be tight one.

SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. No. 2 Maryland returns to action for the first time since their loss at No. 9 North Carolina, hosting Saint Francis (PA) in College Park. If there’s one player the Terrapins would like to get going its senior forward Jake Layman, who struggled in Chapel Hill. He’s still adjusting from being a mismatch at the four as he was last season to spending most of his time at the three, but he’s talented enough to make the transition.

2. The celebrations put forth by the Monmouth bench have been great, but don’t ignore the fact that King Rice’s Hawks are a pretty good team. Monmouth opens MAAC play with a game at Canisius, and a deep team led by point guard Justin Robinson will need to be at its best against the Golden Griffins. Jim Baron’s team has lost two straight, but they have five players scoring in double figures led by high-scoring guard Malcolm McMillan (23.6 ppg). The western New York swing can be a tough one in MAAC play, so Monmouth’s focus will be key.

3. Wake Forest hosts Arkansas in a matchup of teams hoping to work their way into the conversation in their respective conferences. The Demon Deacons managed to finish third at the Maui Invitational, and they’re off to a 5-2 start despite not having injured guard Codi Miller-McIntyre. Freshman Bryant Crawford has played well in Miller-McIntyre’s absence, and forwards Dinos Mitoglou and Devin Thomas can be a tough matchup in the front court. Arkansas had a lot to replace from last season’s NCAA tournament team, and while they’re still turning teams over the half-court defense has been a struggle.

4. Two of the best players whose highlights don’t garner major attention amongst casual fans will be on the same court in New York City, as DeAndre Bembry leads Saint Joseph’s up against Maodo Lo and Columbia. But this won’t be a one-on-one kind of game, with the Hawks boasting an improved Isaiah Miles (who is leading the team in scoring) and Columbia having three other players averaging double figures led by guard Alex Rosenberg.

5. Northern Illinois hasn’t played the most rigorous of schedules to this point, but they’ll put their 7-0 record on the line at Missouri. Mark Montgomery’s team has been successful thanks in part to their offensive balance, with five players averaging at least eight points per game (Aaric Armstead leads at 13.0 ppg) and forward Marin Maric (10.6, 7.9 rpg) having posted double-doubles in each of the last two games. That balance will be key on the road against a Missouri team led by freshman Kevin Puryear.

6. After managing to hold off UT-Arlington in overtime earlier this week Texas hosts 6-2 Samford. Scott Padgett’s team opened the season with a loss at No. 24 Louisville but have won six of their last seven with the lone defeat being by just one point at Austin Peay. Texas hasn’t been all that good on the defensive glass, as opponents have grabbed more than 42 percent of their misses, and it’s an area Shaka Smart’s team needs to address. Samford’s ranked 301st in adjusted offensive efficiency, which should benefit Isaiah Taylor and company.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Iona at Marist, 7:00 p.m.
  • Manhattan at Siena, 7:00 p.m.
  • Kansas State at Georgia, 7:00 p.m.
  • San Francisco at Montana, 9:00 p.m.
  • UC Davis at Saint Mary’s, 10:00 p.m.

VIDEO: UNLV’s ‘Runnin’ Rebel Madness’ dunk contest highlights

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Thursday night UNLV held its annual “Runnin’ Rebel Madness” event, taking Jerry Tarkanian Court to the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center for a night outside. Fans were able to meet the men’s and women’s basketball teams and also take in three-point and dunk contests, with one of the judges for the dunk contest being Las Vegas native and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

And while it won’t mean much when it comes to wins and losses, UNLV may have the best group of dunkers in college basketball this season. Freshman forward Derrick Jones’ exploits have appeared on this site in the past, and to no one’s surprise he won last night’s dunk contest. But guard Jaylen Poyser and Ike Nwamu can get up as well, and 7-foot freshman Stephen Zimmerman’s no slouch either.

Above are highlights from the dunk contest, with MyLVSports responsible for the footage.

Four-star guard Jaylen Fisher commits to UNLV

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With three scholarship seniors in its backcourt rotation entering the 2015-16 season, UNLV had some holed to fill with regards to the Class of 2016. Dave Rice and his staff have managed to address this issue on the recruiting trail, and Wednesday evening the Mountain West program received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016.

6-foot-2 point guard Jaylen Fisher, ranked 55th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, announced that he will be a Runnin’ Rebel. Fisher, who attends Bolton HS in Memphis and played for the Team Thad grassroots program, picked UNLV over Memphis, Arkansas, Baylor and Indiana.

He joins fellow guard Christian Vital, wing Carlos Johnson and four-star forward Justin Jackson in UNLV’s 2016 recruiting class to date.

Adding Fisher to the mix gives UNLV another option at the point in 2016-17, with Daquan Cook due to be a redshirt senior that year with the two freshmen (Fisher and Vital) coming aboard. Fisher’s a good ball-handler and distributor who can also help UNLV defensively at the point. UNLV won’t lack for talent off the ball either, with sophomores Pat McCaw and Jordan Cornish having eligibility remaining as will current freshman Jalen Poyser.

And while the addition of Fisher is a positive for UNLV, having a talented player leave your city isn’t a good sign for Memphis especially when considering the pressure on head coach Josh Pastner to get the Tigers back to playing at the level their fan base expects them to play at.

Video credit: Courtside Films